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In a 4 to 3 vote, the Caledonia village board rejected a motion at its board meeting Monday to reconsider paying for a feasibility study that would look at forming an independent Caledonia School District.
Made by village trustee Ed Willing, the motion asked the board to reconsider paying for the feasibility in light of having new information. He also made the offer that if the board passed the resolution, Citizens for a Caledonia School District would help pay for half of the study.
Following the vote, several residents walked out of the meeting angry and frustrated. But despite the rejection, the group has raised about $4,000 between their online fundraiser and checks sent to them. Now, an anonymous donor has come forward saying that if they raise $5,000, he will give another $5,000, Willing said.
Funding the study is important to the process because the group wants to help change the state law to allow them to ask citizens if they want to pull out of the Racine Unified School District. But some state lawmakers have said they won’t consider changing the law unless a study is done.
“A lot of people are getting involved,” Willing said. “It’s pretty cool to see.”
Samantha Kohnke, who has lived in Caledonia for three years, said she has raised $1,100 baking cupcakes to help raise money for the group.
“I moved to Caledonia three years ago and I love it,” she said. “I have other friends that would like to move Caledonia, but they won’t because they don’t want their kids to go to RUSD.”
Kohnke hopes that she can persuade other people from Caledonia to want their own school district.
“Caledonia is so different than Racine and I want more people to have reason to move to Caledonia,” she said.
But while the village board may have rejected Willing’s attempt to get the feasibility study paid for, village presidents from Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, and Sturtevant want to look at pulling out of the Racine Unified School District. Now the three communities plan to form an RUSD Separation Study ad hoc committee to look at the issue.
Caledonia and Sturtevant in April narrowly voted to approve an advisory referendum to start pursuing an independent school district. Village trustee Kevin Wanggaard voted for paying for the study.
“I think it’s great. People are passionate and when they passionate, it’s a good thing,” Wanggaard said.
Wanggaard will serve as the board chairman for the newly formed committee.
“With the group that we’re forming, we’going to be able to address a number of issues,” he said. “The joint ad hoc committee will take a comprehensive look at what type of study would need to be done that will include the effects on Mount Pleasant, Caledonia, Sturtevant, and Unified. It’s a working committee.”
But Willing said the feasibility study initially proposed to the village would have looked at the economic impact of an independent Caledonia school district on surrounding communities.
“The folks from Citizens for a Caledonia School District are not interested in a combined feasibility,” Willing said. “…A combined study is useless. Caledonia and Mount Pleasant are so dramatically different. Our population is different and we have more assets.”
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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.
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